Written Wednesday November 22nd at 2:00 PM
AROUND THE OAA TOP TEN
- North Farmington
- West Bloomfield
- Harper Woods
- Troy Athens
- Stoney Creek
Boys Basketball Preview Special.
Boys Basketball Districts.
NORTH FARMINGTON RAIDERS
LAST SEASON: 22-2, 8-0 Red. Lost 56-44 to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Division One Regional Finals.
KEY PLAYER: Tyler Spratt-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Dylan Smith-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Avi Melster-G
The Raiders had a strong year last season but a very questionable officiated game in the regional finals derailed Coach Todd Negoshian and North Farmington’s season. They lost several very talented players to graduation but they also reloaded and got a transfer in Dylan Smith this offseason. Program strength has always been solid for Negoshian. The Raiders are one of the favorites coming into this season for a reason.
STORYLINE: Are the Raiders a State title contender???
The Raiders have had a ton of success getting to the Division One State title game in 2018. They have been rolling whether it’s through program strength or bringing in transfers to North Farmington. The Raiders had a bad taste in their mouths when they fell to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the regional finals behind very questionable officiating in that game. North Farmington has Tyler Spratt, Landon Williams, Avi Melser coming back and they added two transfers in Robert Smith (Oak Park) and Dylan Smith (Walled Lake Western) this offseason. “We’ve had a pretty good offseason, we got Landon and Tyler back and they did a great job leading a lot of our younger guys this summer, great job with them in the weight room and in the gym with skill work, it’s been a good year with North, pretty happy with how summer and fall went and I’m looking forward to the next step trying to figure out some roster spots to see where we are going to be, get the younger guys some minutes” said Negoshian. The non-conference is brutal for North Farmington which includes Detroit Martin Luther King, Flat Rock, Detroit University Prep, Canton Glenoak, Ohio, Detroit Community, Grand Rapids Northview, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, and Zeeland West with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. “It’s going to be a bear it is what it is every year, I’m still a firm believer that the Catholic League and the Red are the two top divisions in the State so we got that gauntlet and we got West Bloomfield and Groves will be fun but we got the State tournament, we got to use our days to get ready for that, we’re going to try to be ready by the end of February and early March where we can take advantage of getting better” Negoshian added. The Raiders should be in the mix and February is the key for North Farmington. “Be good in February, that’s our expectation” Negoshian concluded.
LAST SEASON: 21-8, 6-2 Red. Won 44-38 over Grand Rapids South Christian in the Division Two State Finals.
KEY PLAYER: Trenton Ruth-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Markiese Young-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Eden Vinyard-F
It was a special year for the Eagles and Coach Juan Rickman who added the role of Athletic Director this fall taking over for Tom Butler. Ferndale won their first State Crown since 1966 by winning 44-38 over Grand Rapids South Christian. Rickman lost a ton of proven talent last season but they have several players that are ready to take over. The Eagles if they can get the program strength which they have started to do and keep it at a high level then they could be a force to watch in the years to come.
STORYLINE: How will the Eagles do in defending their crown???
The Eagles are coming off their first State crown since 1966 winning it last season but they will be the hunted once the postseason starts. “It’s cool, it was great to see the community and the whole school celebrate, it was a great experience” said Rickman. Ferndale has to replace a ton of talent from last season. Rickman has found ways to build his program through transfers and program strength. Ferndale has proven experience Trenton Ruth, Mishawn Hereford, Juilan Cardenas, Darion Johnson, Kendall Mayes, Kaden Hudson, and Markiese Young coming back. Rickman is very high on Eden Vinyard who is rated as the top freshman in the State for his class. Ferndale has a very tough non-conference which has Birmingham Brother Rice, Davison, Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit, River Rouge, MLK Classic, Davison Classic, Muskegon, Warren Fitzgerald, and Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills. The Eagles as mentioned will be the hunted once the postseason starts. They are the defending Division Two State Champs. Ferndale will have a really interesting district at Detroit Pershing with Ferndale University, Warren Lincoln, and Detroit Pershing. “I don’t like that our district is at Pershing, I just don’t like the location, it’s okay, we’ll be ready” Rickman added. Rickman wants to take things one day at a time as the season progresses. “Just to get better as the season progresses, not really get caught up in the results, it’s a process” Rickman concluded.
WEST BLOOMFIELD LAKERS
LAST SEASON: 16-7, 7-3 White. Lost 57-47 to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Donnie Watts-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Chris Britton-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Drew Wilson-G
The Lakers shared the White with Groves but fell to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the district semifinals last season. Coach Arnette Jordan has built the program through program strength and several transfers sprinkled in. West Bloomfield added Bloomfield Hills transfer Drew Wilson this offseason to go along with several proven returners. The Lakers won’t be judged with what they do in the regular season, it will be the postseason but it will be a tough chore for Jordan with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in there this season.
STORYLINE: Can the Lakers matchup in the postseason???
The Lakers have a ton of proven experience making the jump from the White to the Red this season. “I was happy to make it back to the Red where I think we belong and I think going down to the White to teach my kids and now we won the White, I think it’s time to go back and deal with our old rivals North Farmington, Ferndale, and a bunch of great coaches and programs” said Jordan. West Bloomfield has Chris Britton, Donnie Watts, Corey Pittman, Caleb Caudle, and Dyoni Edwards coming back. They did add Drew Wilson who comes into the program from Bloomfield Hills and Keith Gilmore comes back after taking a year off. West Bloomfield has a really tough non-conference which includes Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit, East Lansing, Westland John Glenn, Warren Lincoln, River Rouge, Grand Rapids South Christian, Detroit Renaissance, and East Kentwood with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. They have a really tough district which has Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in there. “We’re with Walled Lake (Western, Northern, Central also Lakeland) and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, a chance to play a good team like Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, that’s why we’re in the Red, we got to build up and get better, we’ll be ready to go” Jordan added. “Play hard, play together and try to get many wins as we can, the Red is hard every night, it’s going to be a tough job in front of us, just to compete and come out on top and learn something” Jordan concluded.
LAST SEASON: 17-9, 2-6 Red. Lost 64-44 to Grand Blanc in Division One Quarterfinals.
KEY PLAYER: Peter Kardasis-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: William Gee-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Trenton LaGarge-F
It was a special season for the Highlanders despite having losing record in the Red. Adams had to go through Lake Orion, Utica Eisenhower, and Clarkston in the district and regional before falling to Grand Blanc in the State Quarterfinals. There were some changes this offseason, Coach Jaret Thomas went to Avondale and Isaiah Novak has taken over the program. Novak has a ton of program strength and will look to make his mark in the always tough and difficult Red.
STORYLINE: How will the Highlanders adapt to a new coach???
The Highlanders had one of their best postseason’s ever getting to the State quarterfinals before falling to Grand Blanc and they beat Clarkston three times which is unheard off especially in boys basketball last season. Adams had a ton of changes this offseason but the transition has been very smooth. “It’s been fantastic, great support group from the administration to the athletes, very excited to be a part of it” said Novak. The Highlanders have Peter Kardasis and William Gee coming back which has Novak excited for the season “I’m extremely blessed, I cannot be more fortunate, a program coming in with this positive culture that they have and having two great leaders, not only are they great players but fantastic teammates, they hold themselves accountable, they hold their teammates accountable, being a first year coach you can’t ask much more from your two leaders” Novak added. The interior will be the question mark for Adams despite having Trenton LaGarge coming back. They also have Jake Andrzejak, Chan Yang, Gavin Farris, Aaron Troxwell, and Luke Marcial coming back as well. The Highlanders have a really interesting non-conference which includes Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, Milford, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Grosse Pointe South, Detroit Science and Math, and Northville. Adams intents to be a grinding program like they were in the past. “Grind, play hard, play like a family, be resilient, no doubt we play in one of the toughest leagues in the State of Michigan, there is going to be losses throughout the season but I’m looking forward too is how we respond more to losses and I’m hoping it will be similar to where we were last year” Novak concluded.
LAST SEASON: 16-10, 1-7 Red. Lost 58-48 to Adams in Division One Regional Finals.
KEY PLAYER: Jon Kaul-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Matthew Pfligher-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Cole Charter-G
It was a very odd year for the Wolves which saw them lose 10 games and winning one league game was mind boggling but Clarkston won a district crown and got to the regional finals behind a workman like approach. The Wolves lost Desman Stephens (football), Brody Kosin (football), and Cavanaugh Diton to graduation which are big losses but this is still Clarkston and they have an ore surrounding them. They have the Dan Fife ore surrounding the program and they have a ton of program strength which always helps. Coach Tim Waslik has talent but they might need that workman like approach like they did last season if they want to make a move to where they usually are.
STORYLINE: Wolves could have more workman group this season???
The Wolves have been known to have bounce back seasons after having a down year. This season looks to be no different as they want to get back to where they have been in years past. Clarkston has John Kaul, Matthew Pfligher, Cole Charter, Peyton Fitzsimmons, Hayden Flavin, Ryan Gifford, and Quinn Rosenburg coming back. “We’ve had a really good offseason and we’ve had many guys make a commitment to getting into the gym and improving. With only two returning starters we are looking forward to guys stepping into new roles. We have a nice mix of returning players and new comers that will contribute to our team” said Waslik. Clarkston has a really tough non-conference which includes Sterling Heights Stevenson, Detroit Old Redford Academy, Brighton, Fenton, and Walled Lake Western with the rest of the schedule going against OAA schools. “We will pride ourselves on the defensive end of the floor, we will be a much improved shooting team from the perimeter this season” Waslik added. Clarkston will look to have a bounce back season after a very unusual year last season. “I’m really looking forward to coaching this team and the classes moving up the system” Waslik concluded.
OAK PARK KNIGHTS
LAST SEASON: 12-8, 3-5 Red. Lost 62-47 to Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit in Division One District Finals.
KEY PLAYER: Geon Hutchins-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Jason Sanders-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: ???
It was a very interesting year for the Knights which saw a ton of ups and downs. It is clear that Coach Durrand Sheppard’s program has a big problem when they play Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit in the postseason. The Cubs has won four straight against them but the good news is they are going to be in different districts this season. Oak Park lost Gene Hutchins to graduation but his brother Geon comes back. The Knights lost a transfer as well so program strength will be tested for the Knights this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Knights do without Hutchins???
The Knights are 79-60 in the last seven years and 27-14 in the last two years but the postseason had gone through Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit or Detroit Renaissance. Oak Park has lost five straight postseason games to the Cubs but the good news for the Knights is that they don’t have the Cubs or the Phoenix in their district this season. “I think our district is better, I don’t know if it’s worse than having U-D or Renaissance but at the end of the day it’s still going to be competitive, we’re just going to be ready to go at the end of the day whoever plays us, we’ll be ready for a fight” said Sheppard. Oak Park has Geon Hutchins and Jason Sanders coming back and both are three year starters as juniors. “We’re ready to compete like normal, I don’t know how we are going to do in our league, we always are going to be competitive in the higher upper tier, at the end of the day I want my guys to play hard, at the end of the year we’re going to be a better team than we started” Sheppard added. Sheppard expects big things with the Knights this season and the non-conference looks very challenging with Macomb Dakota, Detroit Edison, Jackson, and Michigan Collegiate with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. “Compete every night and at the end of the day make a State run, get past the district, and the league hopefully we be in the top three or two teams” Sheppard concluded.
LAST SEASON: 16-7, 7-3 White. Lost 55-48 to Seaholm in Division One District First Round.
KEY PLAYER: John Simpson-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Josh Gibson-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Paul Hubbard-G
The Falcons shared the White with West Bloomfield but they were shocked in the first round by arch rival Seaholm last season. Groves has a ton of proven players back for Coach Marc West. Program strength will be something to watch especially at the lower levels. Things look very favorable for them postseason wise but seeing how they level up in the Red will be something to watch this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Falcons do in the Red???
The Falcons had a strong year last season sharing the White with West Bloomfield but they were upset by Seaholm in the first round of districts. “We ended the year with a roller coaster, one of our best moments to win a league championship and then really didn’t bring the same intensity for that district game but it hopefully adds fuel to the fire this year, get some guys going and definitely not take anything for granted anymore and once we get into that Red we know we’re going to be competing every night, and that part is going to be a lot of fun” said West. Groves has some proven players in John Simpson, Josh Gibson, Elijah Yelder, Brody Tushman, Landon McKinney, and Paul Hubbard coming back. Groves moved up to the Red and hosts their district this season which is something that excites West. “We’re going to learn about that life in the Red together, first year moving up seeing what that is all about but my expectation is you’re going to have to compete at the highest of levels every night, that’s what our guys are kind of looking forward too. Every day we got to practice, no nights off thing is going to be there for us and the idea of getting the district on your home court, that’s a big deal, we’re looking forward to the opportunity and making some noise there” West added. Groves has a very interesting non-conference which features Livonia Clarenceville, Redford Thurston, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Plymouth Canton, and Utica Ford II with the rest of the schedule going against OAA schools. “To compete and get better, learn how to compete at that Red level, learn as much as we can through the league and compete the highest level come February and March” West concluded.
LAST SEASON: 18-7, 6-4 White. Lost 54-48 to North Farmington in Division One Regional Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Mason Parker-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Chaise Kupier-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Jon Whiteside-G
It was a very interesting year for the Colts which had more ups than downs. Troy won their district but fell to North Farmington in the regional semifinals on their home floor. Coach Gary Fralick has a pretty strong team coming back this season especially with three proven starters. The bench is the question mark for Fralick. If he can give his proven starters some rest and develop the bench then it would help the team. Program strength looks solid for the Colts. Troy has the makings of another really good season but the bench will be the key going forward.
STORYLINE: Can the Colts develop the bench???
The Colts had a great year winning 18 games and a district title last season. Troy has Mason Parker, Chaise Kupier, and Jon Whiteside coming back. “Anytime you win a championship it carries over in a positive manner, last year is no exception, we have enough starting players, we have enough backup players who played a good amount last year, really I think even better this year. I think there will be a lot to be said that we will have a chance to carry things over into that type of team that we like to be” said Fralick. Fralick believes that this team can have a successful year this season even though they will have a tough postseason path but the reward will be hosting the regional. “I want to win the league, a district, and a regional and then go from there and see what we can get after that” Fralick concluded. DeNiro Prince and Bryce Bauman could see some time in the starting lineup. The bench will be a question mark for the Colts despite having Greg Tester, Jailen Peacock, and Jack Sobotka are players to watch for a very young on the bench. The non-conference is pretty much an OAA schedule with the exception of Novi, Detroit Edison, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and Utica Ford II. Troy should be a force to watch this season.
HARPER WOODS PIONEERS
LAST SEASON: 16-8, 8-0 Gold. Lost 68-45 to Grosse Pointe South in Division One District Finals.
KEY PLAYER: Julian Young-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Stephone Buford-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Colby Bailey-G
The Pioneers made a ton of noise when they were in Division One for the postseason only to fall to a very good Grosse Pointe South team in the district finals last season. Harper Woods won the Gold and moved up two divisions. The Pioneers have a ton of proven players coming back for Coach TaJuan Porter and program strength looks to be on the rise. They have that Division One experience which should help them when they are back in Division Two for the postseason. Harper Woods should be very good this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Pioneers do in the White???
The Pioneers had a ton of momentum last season. They made the district finals in Division One but fell to a very good Grosse Pointe South program as mentioned. Harper Woods has proven experience in Julian Young, Stephone Buford, Colby Bailey, Jashon Pierce, and Delanio Key coming back for Porter. The non-conference is very interesting with Warren Fitzgerald, Detroit Edison, and Detroit University Prep with the rest being against other OAA schools. They will add more non-conference games as well. Harper Woods has a ton of experience but moving two divisions will be a challenge for Porter and his program this season, it’s a risk worth to take.
TROY ATHENS RED HAWKS
LAST SEASON: 11-10, 7-5 Blue. Lost 61-60 to Sterling Heights Stevenson in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Emmanuel Robinson-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Hayden Crum-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Luke DiGiovanni-F
The Red Hawks had an up and down year last season which included a heartbreaking loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson. They have shown some strides during the summer. Coach Dave Scott has a proven group of talent coming back and program strength as well. Troy Athens has everything in line to have a special season.
STORYLINE: Can the Red Hawks keep improving???
The Red Hawks have done really well this summer and have kept improving as the summer progressed. “We got a nice group of kids, we’re moving up a division, we’re excited to play teams like Lake Orion twice a year, Troy twice a year, Bloomfield Hills twice a year. I think our league is going to be very competitive, we’re excited to get started” said Scott. Troy Athens has proven experience in Emmanuel Robinson, Luke DiGiovanni, Hayden Crum, and Eli Garvin coming back. Program strength looks to be solid for the Red Hawks who just completed a new redesign to celebrate their 50 year anniversary as a school. The non-conference doesn’t look as challenging with Waterford Oakdale Prep, Redford Thurston, and Howell with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. “We’re going to show up, we’re going to compete, we do that we’ll see what happens” Scott concluded. Troy Athens should be a sleeper to watch this season.
LAKE ORION DRAGONS
LAST SEASON: 12-12, 3-7 White. Lost 50-42 to Adams in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Ryan Rocheleau-F
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Ethan Sharkey-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Zach Parks-G
The Dragons were around 500 but they lost a ton of really close games last season. They lost DJ Morrow, Blake Liddell, and Kevin Tobe to graduation and Kaydon DeGraffenreid (football) as well. Lake Orion has a blend of youth and veterans which helps Coach Jose Andrades along with a transfer that has made a ton of noise lately. The Dragons are in a perfect spot, they are the great unknown heading into the year as well.
STORYLINE: Dragons are a young team but if summer ball is indication they could be a sleeper???
Lake Orion could be a really dangerous team despite losing DJ Morrow, Kevin Tobe, and Blake Liddell to graduation last season as mentioned. This is a team that does not have a true star player. Zach Parks and Quay Fly have made a ton of noise this summer and they have gotten solid guard play from Nick Galben, Kobe Louris, and Ethan Sharkey. Gabe Scott should have another strong season at point guard and MJ Long could be in line for a breakout year and that’s not mentioning Ryan Rocheleau who has played football along with Jackson Shoskey and Will Farmer who played soccer has also made some noise but Shoskey and Farmer could be five quarter guys. “We’re young, we’re a work in progress, we have a long way to go” said Andrades. They also have Hayden Armstrong coming back along with Sam Blakeley in the interior. The Dragons are well coached under Andrades. They have some proven players but they are really young. The non-conference looks very interesting with Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Holly, Lapeer, and Plymouth while the rest are either in division or against OAA schools. Lake Orion as mentioned is the great unknown.
LAST SEASON: 13-11, 9-3 Blue. Lost 52-34 to Birmingham Brother Rice in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Findlay Sparby-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Abraham Miller-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Jacob Drouilland-F
The Maples had a rough 2022 after some offseason issues but a very strong 2023 as shown with their record. They won the Blue and upset Groves in the first round has Seaholm fans very optimistic of Coach Mike DeGeeter’s team this season. The Maples are always scrappy and very blue collar which has always been their calling card. Program strength looks solid for Seaholm as well. The Maples could be in line for another strong season.
STORYLINE: Can Maples keep the momentum after upset of Groves last season???
The Maples had a ton of proven experience last season. They are younger but they could be deeper than they were last season. Seaholm has Findlay Sparby, Jacob Drouilland, Abraham Miller, and James Chinois coming back for DeGeeter. The Maples rely a ton on program strength and their lower levels were very good last season and they will be again this year. They expect to go 11 deep this season which helps this season. DeGeeter has a tough non-conference which includes East Lansing, Walled Lake Western, and Livonia Churchill with the rest being against OAA schools. Seaholm could be a team to watch this season.
LAST SEASON: 6-16, 2-8 White. Lost 56-41 to Detroit Henry Ford in Division One District First Round.
KEY PLAYER: Greg Grays-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Quintez Salter-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Darrell Cochrane-G
It has been a rough offseason for the Falcons with the year they had last season along with the coaching changes that has affected the program. Farmington named Byron Johnson as their new coach. He’ll be tasked to get the players on the same page along with changing the culture of the program. Farmington does have a proven player in Greg Grays who had a big year along with Jordan Turner in the interior last season. Look for whoever the new coach is to lean on Grays and the proven experience the Falcons have early to build the program.
STORYLINE: Can the Falcons and Johnson get on the same page???
The Falcons have talent and a ton of proven experience but there are some questions when it comes to trust. Johnson has Greg Grays, Quintez Salter, Darrell Cochrane, Anthony Bailey, and Jordan Turner coming back for Johnson. Program strength is also a question mark for Johnson and Farmington this season. They are in a tough district and have a tough non-conference with Livonia Stevenson, Brighton, Livonia Franklin, and Holland West Ottawa with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. The Falcons will be a program to watch this season.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS BLACKHAWKS
LAST SEASON: 15-8, 5-5 White. Lost 62-56 to West Bloomfield in Division One District First Round.
KEY PLAYER: Blake Nagy-F
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Daron Mason-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Carter Canfield-G
The Blackhawks had a strong year last season despite losing in the first round to West Bloomfield but anytime you lose Noah Adamcyzk and CJ Jackson to graduation and Drew Wilson transferring to West Bloomfield it’s going to be a very hard challenge for Coach Brian Canfield. Bloomfield Hills has a nice blend of youth and experience which helps. Carter Canfield will be a player to watch this season. The Blackhawks should be very competitive this season.
STORYLINE: Blackhawks should be a very interesting team to watch???
The Blackhawks have a clean slate to start the season. It is virtually a new team for Canfield and his program. They have Blake Nagy and Daron Mason coming back along with newcomer Carter Canfield whom is expected to make a ton of noise and has done well this summer. “New challenge for us, it’s always been some key players returning but this year it’s a clean slate, new challenge, great opportunity to try and leave our mark again with new players who can leave an impact, I’m really excited about that, we have some outstanding young men with high character, they take care of their business in the classroom, super hard workers, very coachable. Myself and the coaching staff are very excited for that” said Canfield. The non-conference schedule is very interesting. The Blackhawks will play South Lyon and Walled Lake Central with the rest being against OAA schools. “We want to develop our players as time goes on, we know that there is a learning curve with our players this year but we’re super excited to get in and re-teach from step one and have our players just take off. The goal this year is to expedite the growth of our players and we feel like even though we lost a lot of guys, lost five starters and key players off the bench, we feel like we can come in and play with teams in the White, so our goal is to be right there in the mix again” Canfield concluded.
SOUTHFIELD ARTS AND TECH WARRIORS
LAST SEASON: 10-14, 5-3 Gold. Lost 73-22 to North Farmington in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Xavier Bowman-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Bryce Humes-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Jaylen Rosell-F
The Warriors were up and down last season. They had some games they looked good and others they did not. Southfield Arts and Tech moved up two divisions but there are a ton of questions for Coach Terrance Porter’s program. Program strength is a concern as well. There are a ton of questions for the Warriors this season.
STORYLINE: Can the Warriors improve in the White???
The Warriors were veteran heavy last season but had some ups and downs. Southfield Arts and Tech will look to have a much younger team this season and program strength is a bit of a concern as well. They have Xavier Bowman, Bryce Humes, and Jaylen Rosell coming back for Porter. The Warriors are in a very tough district and they have a really tough non-conference which has Belleville, Detroit Voguyer, Center Line Prep, and Mount Clemens with the rest being against OAA schools. Southfield Arts and Tech has a ton of questions coming into the season, they should be better but being up two divisions will be very interesting to see how this goes.
STONEY CREEK COUGARS
LAST SEASON: 3-19, 3-9 Blue. Lost 66-63 to Romeo in Division One District First Round
KEY PLAYER: Tre Walker-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Jonah McCay-F
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Tommasso Sinacola-F
It was a very rough transition for the Cougars under Coach Jeff Olind. They were very competitive in their first round loss to Romeo last season. Usually is when year two is where teams see the transition change into success and it’s under year two under Olind, Stoney Creek will look to make a ton of strides in the program after a rough year. The Cougars sub varsities were very good last season and for some of them they will look to make a name for themselves in the varsity level. If things go right then the Cougars could be a force to watch.
STORYLINE: Can the Cougars bounce back after a rough year last season???
Usually with programs, year two is always the turnaround under a new coach and with Stoney Creek it’s no different. “It’s always a transition change with new people, new coach, new programs. Our lower levels have been very successful, the kids have been working really hard all summer and fall and we’re excited to put this together and see what happens” said Olind. Stoney Creek has a very interesting non-conference which has Romeo, New Baltimore Anchor Bay, Hamtramck, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, and Sterling Heights on the schedule. The Cougars have Tre Walker, Jonah McCay, and Tommaso Sinacola coming back along with several players that played in the sub varsities that are ready to make an impact as well. Walker has really improved according to Olind. “Tre has been working on his game, he keeps continuing to get better, his shots look better, his whole around game has gotten better, his ball handling has always been solid, now he’s got to focus on the other intangibles and getting the other guys on the team better and we’re going to need him to be this season” Olind added. If the lower level players can translate their games to the varsity level then they could have a much different season than last season. “We can be as good as our senior leaders take us, the way the division is this year, as bad as our record was last year, we were competitive with everybody and I feel it’s going to be the little things that make us different this year and in the second year in they know how things are supposed to go and we get some guys who can step us as leaders, do some players do some coaching out there and we can be very successful” Olind concluded.
AVONDALE YELLOW JACKETS
LAST SEASON: 10-13, 5-3 Gold. Lost 59-47 to Waterford Mott in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Justin Greer-Sykes-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Dequarius White-G
BREAKOUT PLAYER: DJ Moody-G
It was a very interesting offseason for the Yellow Jackets which saw three coaches in a span of six months. Avondale was up and down falling to Waterford Mott in the district semifinals last season. They have a new coach in former Coach Tim Morton assistant Jaret Thomas taking over the program. Thomas turned Adams around and rebuilt that program. He is looking to do the same at his home school and build the program. The Yellow Jackets were hot and cold during the summer but under Thomas they could make a ton of noise this season but it will take him a little bit. It’s very similar to when he had to rebuild Adams but if what he did at Adams turns out then they could be a very scary program to watch.
STORYLINE: How will the Yellow Jackets do under a new coach???
The Yellow Jackets have had a smooth transition since Thomas took over the program. “It’s been a grind, we’ve been in the gym since May first, we’ve had guys working hard, we’ve had offseason workout with guys invested in showing up during the summer, summer league was very productive, now we’re approaching the season pretty healthy and see what we can do” said Thomas. Avondale has a ton of proven experience in Justin-Greer Sykes, Dequarius White, Amaria Daniel, Anthony Burton, and DJ Moody coming back for Thomas. The Yellow Jackets have a very tough non-conference which includes the North Farmington classic, Detroit Loyola, Brother Rice, and Dearborn with the rest being against OAA schools. “I think it’s completely different, I do feel like we have some upper establishment juniors, one or two seniors, we got a good core of players which I didn’t have initially at Adams so I’m hoping that we can do the little things and show them the best we can be” Thomas added. Thomas was really looking forward to the season and seeing how things work out with his new program. “I want to get to the season and I want to feel like we gave it our all, I want to feel like we are the hardest playing team, hardest connecting team and compete from start to finish” Thomas concluded.
LAST SEASON: 14-10, 7-5 Blue. Lost 64-48 to Grand Blanc in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Jake Champagne-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Drew Cady-F
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Luke Stoffan-G
It was a very interesting season for the Wildcats which saw a ton of ups and downs and a tough loss to Grand Blanc in the district semifinals last season. Oxford will have a new coach as Joe Fedorinchik takes over the program. Fedorinchik will have Jake Champagne coming back. Champagne had a really strong year last season and will look to continue his magic this season. The Wildcats have other proven players besides Champagne as well and Fedorinchik has done a really good job with program strength. Oxford should be in the thick of things this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Wildcats do under Fed???
The Wildcats are going to rely a ton on Champagne to carry the load but Fedorinchik is high on Luke Stoffan as well. “Everyone knows about Jake, averaged 18 points a game last year, had a strong travel season with the Wolfpack. He can score in all three levels, shoots it well, midrange game is very good, he can finish at the bucket. I really look forward to how Luke Stoffan is going to do for us this year, I will constantly be asking him to be more aggressive, he’s a returning point guard for us, he’s a junior, I’m looking for big things out of him, he can get to the bucket, he’s the catalyst of our team, the straw that gets us going and I will constantly be telling him this season” Fedorinchik mentioned and that’s not mentioning Jay Cady in the interior coming back. The coaching transition has been smooth this offseason for Oxford. “It’s been pretty smooth, I’ve been blessed to have the kids I have and the kids I didn’t have in fall sports but they have been involved in the gym working, work on their game and getting better, I think it’s been a very successful offseason for us this year, a lot of work but I can’t wait until tryouts” Fedorinchik added. The Wildcats have a very interesting non-conference with Lapeer, Plymouth Salem, Detroit Country Day, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep with the rest of the schedule being OAA schools. “Anytime you return Jake and Luke, there are going to give you a chance to win games so we’re going to compete hard in the Blue, I think we got a heck of a chance of winning it but we got to go up there and earn it.” Fedorinchik concluded.
LAST SEASON: 5-18, 2-10 Blue. Lost 64-54 to Lake Orion in Division One District First Round.
KEY PLAYER: Max Mohl-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Jake Tandy-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Logan Pleasant-G
It was a really rough year for Coach Nick Evola and the Falcons winning five games and falling to Lake Orion in the first round. They lost Grant Calcagno, Elijah Kalaj, and Khammani Potts to graduation. Rochester has program strength as well. This is a program that took a bit of a step back last season but they could be on the bounce back this season.
STORYLINE: Can the Falcons keep growing???
The Falcons have a ton of room for growth after being really young last season and losing a ton of close games. Rochester should be much improved this season for Evola and they have program strength as a strength this season. They have proven experience in Jake Tandy, Max Mohl, Logan Pleasant, and Noah Kim coming back. The Falcons have a mostly OAA schedule for their non-conference but they have New Baltimore Anchor Bay tournament which has Grosse Pointe North, New Baltimore Anchor Bay, and Lakeland along with Dearborn Fordson as well. The Falcons are a darkhorse in the Blue, they could surprise some people.
LAST SEASON: 3-19, 0-8 Gold. Lost 65-48 to Waterford Kettering in Division One First Round.
KEY PLAYER: JJ Claudio-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: ???
BREAKOUT WATCH: Trevion Peters-F
It was a really rough season for the Phoenix but there are some positives heading into this season. They have a new coach in Andrew Myers taking over the program. Myers was a star at Clarkston under Coach Dan Fife and Sy Green Gym should be ready to go this season after it was renovated. They played at Pontiac Kennedy last season. Myers will have his hands full with the Phoenix building the program. It should be very interesting to see what he does at Pontiac.
STORYLINE: How will the Phoenix do with a new coach???
It was a very rough year last season for the Phoenix. They made a ton of changes this offseason and named former assistant Andrew Myers to coach the program. Myers will try to bring his success to a Pontiac program that has struggled in recent years and rebuild the program and their program strength. The Phoenix have JJ Claudio and Trevion Peters coming back for Myers. Both of them will be relied on heavily this season. Pontiac has a really interesting non-conference which includes the Moneyball Classic, Hazel Park, Southfield Christian, Jackson, Detroit Henry Ford, Wayne Memorial, and the Davison Classic. The Phoenix have a great shot to turn things around and quickly under Myers.
ROYAL OAK RAVENS
LAST SEASON: 13-9, 6-6 Blue. Lost 59-46 to Detroit Renaissance in Division One District First Round.
KEY PLAYER: Camden Clark-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Nick Hoffman-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: Eddie Skaleski-F
It was a very interesting year for the Ravens which saw them unbeaten in 2022 but struggled a bit in 2023. They fell to Detroit Renaissance in the first round last season. Royal Oak loses its all-time leading scorer in Dylan Hoffman and all time three point shooter Davis Arbeiter to graduation. The Ravens are known for their defense first mentality and Clark and Hoffman are proven shooters for Coach Aaron Smith. Bench play and program strength will be something to watch for Smith and Royal Oak this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Ravens replace Dylan Hoffman and Davis Arbeiter???
The Ravens are a very interesting team that saw a ton of ups and downs last season. Royal Oak lost Dylan Hoffman and Davis Arbeiter to graduation as mentioned. “Losing our all time leading scorer as well as our all time three point shooter will be tough to replace” said Smith. They will look to replace his production from last season. Smith has Luke Liszak, Nick Hoffman and Camden Clark, coming back. “Camden has taken a nice leap forward and will definitely fill in nicely from a scoring standpoint point, our freshman CJ Hairston will help in providing a scoring punch as well from the guard position. Nick provides great stability on the offensive end” Smith added. The interior will be a question mark despite having Eddie Skaleski coming back. The Ravens have always been well known for the defensive end and this season it’s no different. “We will challenge our kids to manufacture scoring by having a better understanding of our system on both ends of the court. Looking for our tough defense to help us on the offensive end as well by getting transition baskets” Smith mentioned. Royal Oak has a very tough district and their non-conference is very interesting with Southfield Christian, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Livonia Stevenson, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Novi, and Fraser with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. Royal Oak is looking to have another strong start like 2022 but they will be challenged as well. “With three sophomores and one freshman, we will be somewhat inexperienced however we are returning Cam as well as two other guards that have a ton of experience (Nick and Luke) so it will be a nice blend of youth and experience. Expectations are to be really good on the defensive end and to get better everyday offensively. Hopefully put ourselves in a position to compete in the Blue while gaining experience for our young players that will certainly pay off in the years to come” Smith concluded. The Ravens have program strength which also helps. Royal Oak as mentioned could be a team to watch this season.
LAST SEASON: 15-9, 8-4 Blue. Lost 77-23 to Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit in Division One District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Donovan Powell-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Michael Onuoha-F
BREAKOUT WATCH: Alex Beard-F
It was a very interesting year for the Bears but they fell to a very good Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit program last season. It will be very interesting to see how Coach Joe Sermo replaces Tamir Runkenvich who has graduated. Berkley has some proven experience players coming back but losing Runkenvich is going to be tough for Sermo. Program strength should be solid for the Bears but they need to address how they are going to replace Runkenvich this season.
STORYLINE: How will the Bears replace Tamir Runkenvich???
The Bears are in the midst of a transition but they have a ton of proven size in the program. They lost several top players to graduation but they will look to build on their program strength with who they have coming back. Berkley has Donovan Powell and Michael Onuoha coming back to join a deep Bears lineup which also has Ari Geller, Matt Bell, and Jacob Frieman also coming back. “We have league title aspirations this year. We return two starters in Donovan and Micah Green. Andrew Cook takes over for Tamir, he has good range from three” Sermo said. Sermo mentioned that Berkley has a ton of size coming back and they have two players who didn’t play last season are back in the fold. “We have a lot of size with Joe Voss and Michael Onuoha, we also have two seniors that took their junior year off in Owen Stone and Alex Beard who will be huge for us” Sermo added. The Bears non-conference is really interesting with Novi, Pontiac Arts and Tech, Livonia Churchill, the Motor City Roundball Classic, Hartland, and the Martin Luther King Classic at Madison Heights Bishop Foley. The district looks very manageable for Berkley but they want to win the league first and they are more than capable of doing so. “We’re expecting a big year” Sermo concluded.
FERNDALE UNIVERSITY EAGLES
LAST SEASON: 11-13, 2-6 Gold. Lost 98-46 to Ferndale in Division Two District Semifinals.
KEY PLAYER: Pierce Sanders-G
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Kevin Jackson-G
BREAKOUT WATCH: ???
It was an up and down year for Coach Josh Nicks and the Eagles last season. Ferndale Universtiy will look to have a bounce back season. They have one player with varsity experience coming back but there is some optimism this season. The Eagles will be a very interesting team to watch this season.
STORYLINE: How will Eagles rebound after a rough season???
The Eagles are in a very interesting spot. They lost a ton of experience from last season but they could be much improved this season. Ferndale University will look to have a bounce back year after losing 11 seniors to graduation. The Eagles have Pierce Sanders and Kevin Jackson coming back for Nicks. “Offseason has been a learning experience, I’m returning one varsity basketball player from last season, so bringing in a new group of kids, it’s been fun, summer league was a rough start, we’ve been working in some kids trying to transfer and not come in, just trying to gel certain kids and it didn’t work out, it was one of my bigger things going into my third season keeping this young group and how much I can coach and seeing how well we can grow and develop and grow with these young players. Fall was really great for us, we got to gel a lot more as a team, chemistry, coaches to player chemistry, and player to player chemistry has grown a lot so I’m excited for the season, I think we have the defensive image that I want and been wanting to have the last two years. We had the talent to do it but I think this team embodies everything that I want to have defensively, really scrappy, very gritty, and love to press, I’m excited for the season actually” said Nicks. Ferndale University has a really interesting non-conference which includes Detroit Fredrick Douglass, Detroit Osborn, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Croswell-Lexington, and Birmingham Detroit Country Day with the rest of the schedule being against OAA schools. “We lost a bunch of talent last year, I plan to win 15 games this year, I’m excited to be in the Blue, definitely excited to go out and play the schools like Rochester, Stoney Creek, to see new facilities this year, we got a super small facility, I don’t know if anyone has been out there so taking the kids to see the bigger facilities, some nicer facilities and playing some different faces and get to know different coaches and playing styles of basketball. I don’t think we’re as talented skillfully than we were last year but this team gels way more than they did in the last two years and listen a lot more and it’s easy for me to coach, I think we will compete and we’ll be better this year” Nicks concluded.